Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Learning how to deal with mom...

Mom is declining in her mental capabilities... that has been talked about in previous posts... but I had no idea some of the things that she had been doing until I talked with some of the neighbors.

She had stood out at the end of her driveway waving some papers around asking people "Can you tell me what this is? I don't know what this is."

Our neighbor, who lives right across the street and has been our neighbor for around 45+ years, walked over to look at what was in her hand. It was dollar bills - 50's, 20's, etc... a wad of them. Mom couldn't tell that this was money or even how much each bill was worth. I've had something similar happen to me while with mom when we went out to eat prior to when she fractured her pelvis back in April. She pulled out a $50 bill and asked what it was. She was holding it upside down and looking at the back of it. I told her if she'd turn it right side up and turn it around so she was looking at the front of the bill, she could probably tell. Instead, she turned it around but kept it upside down and she still couldn't tell. So, I turned it right side up for her to see, but she still couldn't tell. She asked if it was a $5 bill. EEEEEEEKS! I could see someone not so very honest taking advantage of her. Perhaps this might explain why she would have thousands of dollars in her home and then not be able to find it... she could have had it in her purse and not know what she was looking at, thinking a $100 bill was a $1 bill.... and someone saw an opportunity. Who knows...

There was another time when a neighbor and her husband who lived down the street from mom (we've known them ever since we had lived on the street in our old neighborhood) took her to the store. Later that evening, mom called her next door neighbor Jeannette and told her that Dale (the husband) had kept her purse, because she couldn't find her purse. Jeannette called Melissa's house at 10 pm and told her what mom was saying - and Melissa told Jeannette that mom had her purse with her because she had to have it to get her keys out to get into the house. Jeannette went over to look for her purse, and found it on a kitchen chair where mom had left it.

I also have seen where mom will look for her purse, and it is sitting on top of the cabinets where she left it, but she will walk by it several times, not even seeing it. It's like it just doesn't register in her brain as to what she is looking at.

I'm sure there are more horror stories - and I'm not sure whether I want to hear them all or not... but maybe I should be recording them for a future time when I may need to have that documentation.

Mom also suffers from "Sundowner's" - which is what they call it when sometime late in the day,the elderly begin to become difficult, unreasonable, aggresive, and sometimes uncontrollable. With mom, she hates everyone and everything by that point in the day (it begins at 2-3 pm and builds over the day until by the evening, she's spoiling for a fight with someone). Nothing is good, everyone is out to do her in, no one is nice, and everyone is a bitch or a bastard and she's the victim of some evil plot. She wants to go home because she hates it at the assisted living place. However, mom's forgotten how she had told her friends and neighbors, crying, that she hated living in her house and she'd rather just die. I'm sure feelings about living alone in her house was revealed to her friends in the late afternoon or evening.

Mom never made any effort to get out and be with other people, other than her friend Phyllis or her friend and neighbor Jeannette. She has no hobbies (try to get her to do something and she'll find a million reasons why she can't or won't - she doesn't even give anything a try). She can't read anything any more - and she wasn't an avid reader to begin with, so it's not hard to make the leap from not reading much to not reading at all. I think part of this is that the words she reads on the page don't translate to her brain. She has no idea what the words are, she can't make sense of words... even though with her glasses on, she can tell you the letters she's seeing either close up or far away.

I talked with her doctor the other day (she is now seeing my doctor - who restored my faith in the medical profession due to her caring and intelligent way she handles my medical problems - she actually listens to what the patient is saying and doesn't pre-judge what is going on, and she pays attention to my many drug allergies). She prescribed something to help mom with her sundowner's - and hopefully this will help both the staff (who are great and very caring people) and me (when I have to come in the evening to make sure she's taking her medication at the proper time).

In the mornings, she's doing great - and can understand the reasoning behind why I have placed her where she is. She realizes that if she were to fall at home, or outside the house, or have an accident of some kind where she wasn't able to get to a phone or call out for help, she could lay there for days and no one would know. At least here, someone is going to see her and/or will come looking for her if she doesn't show up at certain times of the day.

I'm learning not to take the tirades in the evening seriously... to smile and say ok. To let her rant and put up a fuss, because tomorrow morning, she'll feel so grateful that I'm back and tell me her fears that she thought after what she did I'd never come again. It's like a little child. I have to tell her (just like I tell my girls) that no matter what, I love her and I will never just leave her or abandon her. She's my mom, and even though she is a little cranky at night (an understatement for her sake) I still love her and I know she still loves me. We're mother and daughter and we fuss with each other from time to time... but we do love each other.

I'll be glad to see her new tv get delivered on Saturday. That will help her a tremendous amount with the boredom in the evenings.

She has a heart that is healthy and strong again, due to her bypass surgery. Her blood pressure is amazing, and there doesn't seem to be any problems with her cholesterol or other body functions. So physically, if she doesn't have a major accident, she could live another 10-20 years. But her mind is going into a twilight that she may never recover from. I so dread that - mostly because her granddaughters don't get to have the Memaw they deserve to have.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Finally got mom into the assisted living place. I feel a little relief that I don't have to worry how she is doing... now she's 5 minutes away and with people who should be able to help her immediately if she needs it.

So, now I can revel in the pictures I took over Labor Day weekend... we saw the kinfolk and had a great visit with Grandma Geri - although I ended up with bronchitis from the hotel's air conditioning by the end of the trip. Had to go to the emergency room by the time we got back home.

Oh, yeah! I recognize that face... we see that one a lot.

Wow - look at those eyes - they are piercing and intense. And she's only 5.

They look like they could have their own band.

Believe it or not, she's only singing the ABC song.

The kids spent more time trying to tie on their aprons than actually building anything.

Waiting for the train at a station in Des Plaines.

The Field Museum

Friday, September 11, 2009

Flower power

Pics taken while on vacation. I love flowers. If you want to see the detail, click on the pic - it will give you a good sized photo (downsized from the original, but still large enough to get a richly detailed look.) I'll have to catch y'all up on what's going on later - it's been hectic and crazy - and not in a good way. This is my way of saying I need to be more at peace right now...

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Taking care of mother

I have been spending most of my time these last few days taking care of my mom.

Monday, I took her to an assisted living place here and let her stay to see if she liked it. She was having such a good time, I just left and told her I'd pick her up later. When I came to get her, it was difficult to get her out the door. Once we were out, and I had her in the car, she (in her typical fashion) started finding fault with the place, complaining that it was too cold and her shoulders hurt, and she didn't think she could stay somewhere like that.

I told her that that was what sweaters were for... I found out that they had given her a blanket to put around her shoulders, and still she complained... ugh!

The ride home was frustrating. She was saying she didn't want to give up her home, and that she was mad that she would have to sell her car and she was able to take care of herself. I got so frustrated, trying to point out that she is either overdosing herself on her meds or underdosing herself, that that alone will kill and I wanted her to enjoy the life she has without having to feel frustration and depression that she can't take care of herself properly right now.

We parted angry at each other. I called her friend, who was giving mom her meds for each day instead of us leaving them with her, and told her to bring all of mom's medicines back and let her take care of herself. Maybe it was risky - but I wanted to hammer home the point I had been trying to make - that she wasn't capable of doing the things she needed to be doing in order to remain healthy.

I called her a couple days later. My youngest brother had called mom stating he was in jail and needed her help to get bailed out. Mom hung up on him. Thankfully, she's not desperate enough to give him more money - he hasn't talked to her in over two years and now the only reason he called was to ask her for money. My husband and I made some inquiries and checked online to see if he had ever been arrested - and we found no information showing her had been arrested locally... perhaps he was arrested in another town or state. So, it appears he could have been scamming her. The last thing I'll do soon is go to the prosecutor's office to see if they can tell me anything. But I told mom what we found out at this point. She apologized and said to get her signed up for the assisted living. She admitted she can't do her medications and needed help. Thank GOD!!!!!!!!

I can't be there for her all the time - and neither can her neighbors. She needs to have minimum care, and to have people around 24/7 who will notice if she doesn't come out of her room, or are there right away to help her if she falls or has a physical problem. It's expensive, but far cheaper than a nursing home, and much more comfortable. They try to cook foods that people like, have activities that they will enjoy, and she has privacy when she wants it.

And, finally, she'll be closer, so it will be easier to help her.